After reaching the Eastern Maine Class B championship game in 2012, the Newport-based Nokomis High School softball team had an early exit from the playoffs last season. Being ousted by Hermon in the quarterfinals left a bitter taste in their mouths.
“It hurt a lot,” said Nokomis senior pitcher-shortstop Becky Orcutt.
They have taken their frustration out on opposing pitchers so far this season, racking up 124 runs en route to a 10-0 record. Opponents have scored just 14 runs.
They have hit 14 home runs which, according to 10th-year head coach J.D. McLellan, is more than his previous nine Nokomis teams have hit collectively.
“This is the most powerful team I’ve had at any level,” said McLellan.
“We’ve been seeing the ball real well,” said senior pitcher-second baseman Sara Packard.
“It has been a ripple effect. When someone gets a big hit, it makes everyone want to get one,” said Packard.
That was evident when the Warriors fell behind Winslow 6-3 but rallied for an 8-7 triumph. So was the team’s resiliency.
“We said we weren’t going to lose that game. We were determined to come back,” said Packard.
The Warriors are disciplined hitters.
“We don’t swing at bad pitches,” said Orcutt, who leads the Warriors with six homers.
She has been surprised by her long-ball output.
“I never expected to hit this many at all,” she said. “It has been pretty awesome.”
McLellan said his hitters are patient and smart and make adjustments based on the tendencies of the opposing pitcher.
“If they are facing a pitcher with a good riseball, they’ll lift their hands higher,” said McLellan.
The Warriors graduated four starters off last year’s 10-7 team but they have a seven-member senior class that would love to leave with a title.
Sophomore first baseman-pitcher Libby Dunivan, a lefty, is their leading hitter at .538, followed by Orcutt’s .515 average. Senior catcher Courtney Carlson (.455) is second with four homers.
Senior left fielder Drew Graves is at .407, senior Taylor Shaw, who shares right field with senior Natasha Howard, is hitting. 400, Packard is hitting .387 and junior third baseman Mikayla Charters is at .382.
Packard, Howard, Charters and Graves have each hit one home run.
Senior center fielder Sierra Fortin is hitting under .200 but has an on-base percentage of .488. Howard is at .222 and junior shortstop-second baseman Shannon Kasprzak is at .214, but both have had some key hits.
Packard (4-0. 2.00 earned run average) and Orcutt (4-0, 0.30) provide McLellan with a solid one-two punch in the pitching circle and Dunivan (2-0, 1.16) supplies them with quality depth from the left side.
“Our pitching is very strong. You aren’t going to throw the ball by hitters, so they have three or four pitches they can throw,” said McLellan.
“We like to use all of our pitches to keep the hitters off balance,” said Packard.
Having a team behind you that is averaging more than 12 runs per game doesn’t hurt, either.
”It definitely makes it more comfortable for a pitcher,” said Orcutt.
McLellan also said his team is strong defensively.
Another key component is the team’s impressive athleticism. The vast majority of the Warriors play two sports and some play three.
Several went undefeated en route to a field hockey state championship this fall and others played soccer. A couple played on the basketball team that went 18-0 during the regular season before losing to Mount Desert Island in the semifinals.
“You’re with your teammates almost year-round and it makes your friendships stronger,” said Packard, who noted the players come from several different communities.
“A lot of us actually played against each other growing up. It’s cool [to have them as teammates]. It’s nice,” said Packard.
The Warriors also have a group of talented reserves including Kamryn Foss, Emily Randall, Kirsten Costedio and Sydney Hanson.
Despite the 10-0 start, the Warriors aren’t taking anything for granted. They know there are a number of top-notch teams in Eastern B.
“So far it has been a great year but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said Packard. “We’re going to take things one game at a time. We’re going to focus on the task at hand.”
Crockett fundraising challenge announced
Charlie and Penny Crockett, retired longtime teachers, coaches, sportscasters and Camden Hills High School supporters, have launched a challenge to raise funds for the Camden Hills Community Bleacher Project.
The Crocketts will match funds up to $5,000 to complete the $150,000 project, which will include bleachers to seat 700 and a press box for the Windjammers’ soccer/football/lacrosse field and track.
The challenge will continue through June 9.
The project has received $105,000 in donations and pledges to date.
Anyone donating to the Crockett Challenge will have their names displayed in the press box.
Camden Hills athletic director Steve Alex said the original cost was $175,000, but they already have received $25,000 in donations for materials and labor.
He said they are hoping to have everything in place for the fall season.
Those who want to donate to the Crockett Challenge can do so by sending checks to the Crocketts at 648 Camden Road, Hope, ME 04847.
More information on the Bleacher Project can be obtained on the website www.camdenhillscommunitybleacherproject.com and on Facebook.